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Frugal Find: Don't Grocery Shop Hungry

   Posted On: December 6, 2013  |    Posted In: Saving  |     Posted by: Broke Millennial®

The grocery list of a winner right there.

The grocery store and I have what could only be described as a tumultuous relationship.

Every Sunday I brace myself for the battle of my bank account vs. the aisles of food. Step one: plan meals for the week. Step two: write a grocery list for the necessary food.  Step 3: Price check those items by going to the fruit and veggie stand before heading into the grocery store to see who has cheaper produce. Step 4: Avoid the ice cream aisle and the section with those gross looking prepackaged pastries that I still secretly want (looking at you zebra cakes). Step 5: DON’T GROCERY SHOP HUNGRY.

For all my list making and war-like mentality, if I go into the grocery store hungry then all bets are off. Let me get you into the mindset of what it’s like to go to the grocery store hungry.

Think about going out to eat a couple hours later than your normally scheduled dinnertime. Perhaps you usually eat at 6:30, but your friends want to go out to to some trendy new place at 8:30. By the time you get seated at the restaurant your stomach is already rumbling. The waiter comes to the table and hands you a menu of food and it’s all in Italian or French or something that makes this place scream pretentious for pretentious’ sake.

The snooty waiter – who I’ve decided has an obnoxiously small handle bar mustache like an classic villain – waits far too long to come back for your order.

Your stomach has moved on to full on growls. It growls so loud the 60-year-old woman (wearing a sable fur coat) sitting behind you says, “did someone bring a small dog in here?”

Finally, the waiter gets your orders.  Then your friend requests the waiter not bring bread to the table because she’s doing low-carbs and doesn’t want to be tempted. You actually growl at her without the help of your stomach.

After sipping down three glasses of water in a vain attempt to trick your stomach into feeling full — like all those exercise magazines say to do — your bladder is about to burst. You leap up and begin scurrying off to the bathroom. But wait! The villainous, mustachioed waiter is coming with your food!

You are so hungry that a burst bladder is worth staying at your table just to shove your face into a plate of paste (which you ordered just to spite your low carb friend). This pasta tastes so good that you even forget you have three glasses of water sloshing around inside of you.

Carrie eating pasta
My face when someone says she isn’t eating carbs.

[Photo from Buzzfeed]

That, my friends, is why I don’t grocery shop hungry.

Because when I’m hungry in the grocery store, every other thought leaves my mind. I don’t concern myself with my bank account or the list that is perfectly tailored to the amount of food I need that week. Instead, I see food that I crave in the moment and have to fight all the temptations not to throw it in my cart.

Sure, I’m being a bit melodramatic. You just need some will power to avoid throwing zebra cakes, Velveeta macaronic & cheese, and microwaveable dinners into your cart. But why not just help stack the deck in your favor? Go grocery shopping on a full belly, avoid the junk food aisle, and for the love of God – stick to the list!

Broke Millennial Recap:


While we’re chatting about food, other Erin over at Red Debted Stepchild dishes out some sass in her defense of eating out: It’s My Money, I’ll Eat Out If I Want To.

I’m passionate about getting people to start saving for retirement, so I loved Joe Foley’s (of We Got Outta Debt) guest post on Eyes On The Dollar: Retirement Planning Made Simple.

J. Money’s Rock Star Finance aggregates the best of the best money content from around the web (blogs and news sites). I found this fun tidbit today: You Can Now Buy a Share in a Star Athlete.

Looking to shed a few pounds after ringing in the New Year? Joanna and Johnny from Our Freaking Budget wrote 3 Ways You Can Get Paid to Lose Weight for DailyFinance.

I’m not ashamed to admit that The Real Housewives franchise is my guilty pleasure. KK from Student Debt Survivor chats about the impact of socioeconomic backgrounds with friendships in My Real Housewives if NJ Best Friend.


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37 responses to “Frugal Find: Don't Grocery Shop Hungry

  1. Love it! I have totally made this mistake before. It’s easy to do with a busy life I think- but you’re so right about the fact that you often “lose” financially when you shop hungry (or when you go to a restaurant famished, for that matter!)

  2. Oh, yeah – that’d be me when I’m hungry too. Another HUGE money saving tip? Don’t grocery shop with four hungry children. Feed them first, or you can be sure your budget will take a huge kick in the pants. 🙂

    1. I can only imagine the terrors of grocery shopping with hungry children. I think I get cranky with low blood sugar…

  3. The problem here is that I’m always hungry 🙂 I also looooove grocery shopping. I’m usually the one who does it, and I usually buy too much random food, but this last time my wife volunteered and came back with a bunch of Christmas decorations. So I guess it’s sixes either way lol

  4. Definitely a great point. Sometimes I find that I have to grocery shop when I am hungry, just because of timing. During those times, it is even MORE important to make a grocery list and stick to it. If I am hungry and shopping, I will not allow myself to deviate from the list at all.

    1. I never understand how folks shop without a grocery list. I’d end up with no full meals and a bunch of snacks.

    1. TJs is probably the absolute worst to go into when you’re hungry. Everything is so clean and packaged up nicely in there. AND they have samples. Samples are the enemy of grocery bills.

  5. I would add don’t grocery shop when pregnant, but that isn’t fair because you can’t always avoid that. I’m not trying to throw my old lady under the bus, but when she was pregnant shopping with her was an adventure. We can home with some of the weirdest stuff because I didn’t want to fight with her over it… I just defaulted to “happy wife, happy life.”

    1. Good motto, from what I hear. I can’t even begin the struggle to stick to a grocery list when you’re preggers.

  6. Thanks for sharing, friend!

    I have yet to get in the habit of grocery shopping once a week. I almost shop the European way, one day at a time. But it is usually every couple of days instead. Except this week, when we spent our food money too quickly for the pay period and we had to make a very strict meal plan and buy all our stuff at once. *scowls at lack of food options*

    1. I don’t really have the time nor the energy to grocery shop every day. It would be such a nightmare for me. I’d rather get it over all at once, cook a bunch and then just heat up my food during the week.

      And always happy to share!

  7. I always enjoy your vivid descriptions, Erin. 🙂 3 glasses of water sloshing around. Yeah, been there! I enjoy grocery shopping but definitely agree that it’s best to do it on a full stomach. Otherwise everything looks delicious and you start wondering if it’s okay if you eat it in the middle of the aisle as long as you still pay for it. Have a great weekend!

    1. I’ve absolutely pondered cracking open a bag of chips mid-grocery shopping. Common decency usually wins out though.

      Hope you had a great weekend too!

  8. I know all too well the feeling of being in a grocery store when hungry. Suddenly everything looks appetizing and I want it for dinner. Although that’s one of the reasons I love having a Costco close by. If I ever wind up shopping while hungry, they have free samples to hold me over and give me back some willpower. Although I don’t know if I could ever be hungry enough to buy pancake mix. I prefer to make ’em from scratch (Full disclosure, I was spoiled as a child and my mom always made pancakes/waffles from scratch).

    1. I don’t think I’ve ever made pancakes from scratch. Then again, I’m not much of a breakfast food person. I’d rather eat leftovers for breakfast. That grocery list was from a weekend with friends in Chicago. We reverted back to college style eating.

  9. My boyfriend has a weird love for zebra cakes. I always steer him away from the displays in the store if I see them. I hate eating dinner late because I like to take my time eating, as opposed to feeling the need to scarf everything down in a hurry. For some reason, even if I go grocery shopping when I’m hungry, I shop the same as if I were full. It just gives me more motivation to get out of the store quickly so I can go home and eat!

  10. Grocery shopping hungry is the absolute worst. I usually get crabby grocery shopping as it is so when I’m hungry I get in a terrible mood and probably spend more. Loved your story btw I would step in and tell the waiter they should ABSOLUTELY bring the bread and they can just set it right in front of me and that will avoid all temptation for the no-carb/low-carb friend 🙂

    1. I about lose my mind when women I work with ask to order salads with no sandwiches for company lunches. I want to go all Ron Swanson and say, “this is food my food eats.”

  11. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made the shopping while hungry mistake. Later on at night long after the groceries are put away, I’ll look through my refrigerator to find all this needless food and think to myself “man, I must have been starving!” 🙂

  12. I have a harder time at the restaurant scenario than I do with the grocery store (mainly because I’m a creature of habit and always get the same things each week). But if I’m starving by the time I get to a restaurant I’ll get an appetizer, salad, the bread basket…and probably dessert because why not at this point. 🙂 Needless to say I have to negotiate going to restaurants early with friends because they all seem to eat later than I do.

    1. I also have the opposite problem sometimes when I want to do an activity that falls during regular dinner time and friends get cranky that we’ll have to miss dinner or eat later. I don’t mind just eating a big lunch late in the afternoon and then not doing much dinner if it means doing something fun like going to a show.

    1. Peach is a big Oreo fan too. I just avoid the junk food aisle as much as I can. Luckily, I’m not a cereal eater because that aisle seems to hold all the dangers.

  13. I never grocery shop hungry (now if I could only fill up the bf before he comes shopping with me). A bag of oreos and an ice cream cake have recently found their way into my cart thanks to his “help” at the grocery store. Both are super tempting, especially now that I’m trying to eat healthier. Thanks for including my post, I’m in very good company. Have a great rest of your weekend.

    1. You’re welcome!

      I have a tough time passing up ice cream too. It’s my favorite of all sweet treats, no matter how cold it is outside.

    1. I try to learn my lesson, but I still do it on occasion. Today I bought gross cheese slices just because I started craving a grilled cheese while I was at the grocery store.

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